The Capitals entered the 2012 draft weekend here in Pittsburgh with more picks (11) than any other team but with a few pressing needs at the NHL level as well. Shortly after the first round began Friday night, General Manager George McPhee made a move that improved the current Washington roster.
Washington acquired veteran center Mike Ribeiro from the Dallas Stars in exchange for prospect Cody Eakin and a second-round (54th overall) pick.
Ribeiro, who recorded 18 goals and 45 assists for the Stars in 2011-12, has one year left on his contract at a salary cap hit of $5 million. The 32-year-old playmaker should fill what was arguably Washington’s largest and longest-running vacancy – second line center.
More coverage from The Post: Capitals trade for Ribeiro, McPhee addresses coaching vacancy on opening night of NHL draft
For the past three seasons the Capitals lacked an experienced, solid presence anchoring the second line as it auditioned numerous candidates for the role. By picking up Ribeiro, Washington creates options within the lineup and increases flexibility with players like versatile forward Brooks Laich, who can play center and wing, and Marcus Johansson, who has shown to be comfortable on the wing.
McPhee is expected to speak with reporters after Washington makes its first-round selections (11th and 16th). Moments after news of the trade broke, though, Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green welcomed Ribeiro to Washington via Twitter.
“Welcome to the Caps Mike Riberio!!! i hope we do big things)))” Ovechkin tweeted. “U r going to love fans at Verizon Center hahaha!”
Wrote Green: “Welcome to the Washington Capitals Mike Riberio Looking forward to play with you.”
Washington parted with 21-year-old Eakin, who recorded four goals and four assists in 30 games as a rookie in 2011-12. While he was regarded as one of the Capitals’ top prospects, Eakin’s ceiling in the NHL is believed to be that of a third-line center.